Congratulations, graduates!

Tomorrow is graduation day here at Columbia; floors are polished in the library, flowers are planted outdoors, and already the proud participants in light blue caps and gowns (with yet prouder parents) are thronging the campus. All very festive and fancy. The soon-to-be-delivered diplomas, though, don’t hold a candle to those of Renaissance Italy. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds three of them; they’re small booklets of twelve pages, on parchment, hand-lettered (of course!) and with sumptuous bindings. Here are a couple of images of one of them, offered in salute to Columbia’s new grads!

Text and picture are signed by their maker, Johannes Boninus, for the graduation in 1599 of George Calona (get it? St. George and the Dragon? and the name on the binding?) from the university of Padua as Doctor of Law. Come on up and see it sometime; it’s Smith Western MS 25.

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